No surprises in the new Parliament
Basic informal quotas in the Parliament’s composition have been respected, which demonstrates deputies’ loyalty and controllability. The number of the “Belaya Rus” quango members is very high in the new Parliament however there is no reason to expect independence from these deputies.
On September 28th the Central Election Commission approved the list with 109 registered members of the House of Representatives of the 5th convocation and the upper chamber, the Council of the Republic.
The main sign of preserving the old parliament’s role in the Belarusian system of government is adherence to informal quotas in the formation of the new Deputies corps. In particular, the succession quota (20-25%), proposed by Lukashenko a while ago has been fully observed: 21 member of the Parliament’s 4th convocation was successfully nominated, registered and elected to the 5th convocation. Gender quota was also well respected: 26.6% of MPs are women. Finally, Parliament is completely sterile from the opposition, and the number of party members is the lowest - 4.6%.
Compliance with these quotas means that the new parliament will remain loyal and fully accountable to the Presidential Administration and will rubber stamp the legislation proposed by ‘higher’ power echelons. The high number of “Belaya Rus” members is somewhat surprising (63 Deputies, i.e. the majority), in particular, given the floating discussions about its likely transformation into a political party.
However, one should keep in mind that so far all attempts of “Belaya Rus” members to raise their status in the Belarusian political system were successfully suppressed by the government, which is not interested in political reforms.
Finally, “Belaya Rus” had its lobby in the Parliament before, inter alia at a high level: Mr. Huminski was Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, and Deputy Batura was a member of the Council of the Republic and the Minsk Region Governor, etc. However, this had no impact on changing the organization’s status.
Elections results to the upper Parliament chamber, the Council of the Republic, on September 25th were totally predictable. 56 candidates, 8 from each region, were nominated, registered and approved in a festive atmosphere without any intrigue. Eight other members will appointed by President Lukashenko. In the Belarusian political system Council of the Republic plays an even more symbolic role than the lower parliament’s chamber. Therefore no political surprises should be anticipated from this body.
President Lukashenka continues to rotate staff and rejuvenate heads of departments and universities following new appointments in regional administrations. Apparently, new Information Minister Karliukevich could somewhat relax the state policy towards the independent media and introduce technological solutions for retaining control over Belarus’ information space. New rectors could strengthen the trend for soft Belarusization in the regions and tighten the disciplinary and ideological control over the student movement in the capital.
President Lukashenka has appointed new ministers of culture and information, the new rector of the Belarusian State University and heads of three universities, assistants in the Minsk and Vitebsk regions.
The new Information Minister Karliukevich is likely to avoid controversial initiatives similar to those former Minister Ananich was famous for, however, certainly within his capacities. Nevertheless, the appointment of Belarusian-speaking writer Karliukevich could be regarded as the state’s cautious attempt to relax environment in the media field and ensure the sovereignty of national media.
The Belarusian leadership has consolidated the trend for mild Belarusization by appointing a young historian and a ‘reasonable nationalist’, Duk as the rector at the Kuleshov State University in Mogilev. Meanwhile, while choosing the head of the Belarusian State University, the president apparently had in mind the strengthening of the ideological loyalty among the teaching staff and students at the main university in order to keep the youth movement at bay. Previously, Korol was the rector of the Kupala State University in Grodno, where he held purges among the disloyal teaching staff.
The trend for the renewal of mid-ranking executives and their rejuvenation has confirmed. The age of the Culture Minister and three new rectors varies from 39 to 44 years old.